Haemochromatosis (GH) is an autosomal recessive disorder in which increased iron absorption causes iron overload. The gene (HFE) is closely linked to HLA-A on chromosome 6 (6p21.3) but has not yet been identified. We have examined eight polymorphic loci, HLA-B (most centromeric), I82, D6S265, HLA-A, D6S128, HLA-F, D6S105, and D6S299 (most telomeric) in 37 unrelated patients and 60 control subjects. There are also significant positive associations between GH and alleles at all loci except D6S299. Analysis of 48 GH chromosomes in which haplotypes could be established showed that the most common haplotype was I82-2:D6S265-1:HLA-A3:D6S128-2:HLA-F1:D6S105-8. This was present in 28 of 48 chromosomes. In 14 the haplotype included HLA-B7 but only in seven did this extend beyond the telomere to D6S299-2 (the most common allele on GH chromosomes at this locus). In 36 out of 48 chromosomes the two locus haplotype, F1:D6S105-8 was present. Since haemochromatosis appears to originate from a founder mutation we have examined linkage disequilibrium between these various loci and GH using calculations of pexcess. The maximum value (0.72, 95% CI 0.55-0.85) is given by D6S105-8 but is not significantly different from values for HLA-A3 and HLA-F1 (0.50, 95% CI 0.34-0.61 and 0.49, 0.25-0.66 respectively). However, both HLA-A and D6S105 give a value for pexcess which is significantly higher than that for the most centromeric marker, HLA-B (0.17, 95% CI 0.02-0.30). We have counted the number of patients who are homozygous for the common allele at each locus. At D6S105, 22 patients are homozygous for allele 8, with 18 homozygous for HLA-F1 and 10 homozygous for A3. The pattern of cumulative homozygosity suggests a gene location closer to D6S105 than HLA-A. We have also analysed our data for divergence from the apparent founder haplotype (A3:F1:105-8) and have calculated the theoretical frequencies of crossovers between loci. These data suggest a location telomeric to D6S105. A more precise localisation of the gene may be possible with the identification of new markers around D6S105.
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